December 1st marks World AIDS Day. This worldwide day of reflection is a time to evaluate the progress made to end AIDS in children and adolescents. The United States has played a transformational leadership role in funding and driving a coordinated global effort to research the disease and treat people with HIV/AIDS. Stunning progress has been made through President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) since its creation more than 15 years ago. The program has reached millions of men, women and children impacted by HIV/AIDS, enabling more than 2.2 million babies to be born HIV-free to HIV-positive mothers.
Despite the significant progress, nearly 500 children are still infected with the virus every day primarily via mother-to-child transmission, and only 54 percent have access to the vital medications and services they need to stay healthy. Without treatment, half of HIV-infected infants will die before their second birthday. Just as troubling, deaths among adolescents living with HIV have doubled since 2000, despite a decade-long decline in AIDS-related deaths. AIDS is the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa and the second leading cause of death for this age group globally.
The international community has committed to end new infections among children and create the first AIDS-free generation in more than three decades. This World AIDS Day, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is calling on U.S. leaders to band together with the international community to create an AIDS-free generation. If we fail to demonstrate true leadership, control of this epidemic will remain out of reach.
For more information, please visit www.pedaids.org.
Information provided by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation